A Female Firefighter Climbing a Ladder. Free to use: https://www.pexels.com/photo/a-female-firefighter-climbing-a-ladder-16207693/
07 Feb 2024

Turnout gear designed for men may pose a risk for female firefighters


As the CTIF Commission for Women in Fire & Rescue has argued for more than a decade, female firefighters need turnout gear designed for women´s bodies. Ill fitting gear can pose risks, say the female firefighters in LA County. 

At Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting,Los Angeles County female firefighters and lifeguards explained to the board how ill-fitting uniforms designed for men restrict their ability to move, are heavier because of unnecessary material and leave gaps that increase their risk of being burned by flying embers or inhaling smoke known to cause cancer, reports Fire Engineering.com.

The county Fire Department, one of the largest metropolitan emergency service agencies in the United States,  remains largely male and white, despite repeated calls to represent more female firefighters and firefighters of colour.

Of about 3,000 firefighters, only 80 are women, according to agency data. In 2017 there were only 45,which is  when supervisors expressed dismay at the department’s low number of female representation. .

The lack of women, female firefighters and industry leaders say, has contributed to the lack of uniform options.

L.A. County Fire Chief Anthony Marrone said manufacturers have told him there’s either no template for female work pants, or if a manufacturer does make uniforms and personal protective equipment for female firefighters, they require the fire department to buy it in a $100,000 bulk purchase.

“This is an issue of uniform and PPE inequity that we must address as we move forward to not only hire but to retain and promote our fire service women,” Marrone said.